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The future of manufacturing

by Editor 7. August 2018 08:19

To qualify the challenges we are currently facing in manufacturing as it relates to technology, talent and innovation, Deloitte recently collaborated with the Council on Competitiveness and Singularity University (SU) to conduct the Exponential Technologies in Manufacturing study, and share the resulting insights in this publication. Below are a few of the key findings from this research study.

There is a clear and compelling case for manufacturers to leverage exponential technologies and incorporate digital transformation throughout their organization (page 10). The fourth industrial revolution is enabling unprecedented change, and the pace of this change is no longer incremental; it is exponential, disruptive, and nonlinear. It is imperative that manufacturers quickly move to adopt and use exponential technologies to tap into this disruptive change; the longer they wait, the further behind they may fall.

Among the exponential technologies that can enable transformational growth in manufacturing are: 3D printing (additive manufacturing); advanced analytics; advanced materials; advanced robotics; artificial intelligence (AI) (including machine learning); biotechnology/ biomanufacturing; blockchain; cybersecurity; digital design, simulation, and integration energy storage; high performance computing; Interface of Things (AR/VR/Mixed reality, wearables, gesture recognition); Internet of Things (IoT).

Innovation enabled by exponential technologies can help manufacturers grow faster, be more agile, and unlock new forms of value (page 15). But while exponential technologies’ roles are more important than ever, the pace of their adoption is seen as relatively slow among manufacturers. Interviewed executives cite several barriers, including structural and cultural challenges, regulatory burdens, talent constraints, and leadership mindset.

Talent continues to be a key competitive differentiator within the manufacturing industry. Yet talent shortages and the need for new skill sets remain a critical issue across the globe. Attracting and retaining top talent and exploring new approaches to accessing talent will become more important than ever.

Exponential technologies are also dramatically changing the “what” (technology and automation), “who” (talent and the open talent continuum), and “where” (workplaces, physical location) of work across manufacturing organizations. As manufacturers look to increase their pace of change and transformation, they are not only leveraging internal assets in new and different ways but also turning more often to resources outside of their walls, tapping into the broader ecosystem, as there are clear advantages to being close to where innovation is occurring.

Business and government research and development (R&D) activities, along with venture capital (VC) investments, also play a critical role in company- and country-level innovation pipelines and ecosystems. In addition, more manufacturers are looking outside their four walls to increase innovation and decrease time to market, forming collaboration within and across the broader innovation ecosystem.

Across the global manufacturing competitiveness landscape, US companies lead in R&D spending, but other countries, especially China, are quickly catching up.

Moving confidently into the future means that manufacturers should develop a culture that is receptive to change and agility, one in which all stakeholders see differently, think differently, and act differently. It also means adopting an exponential transformation approach that uses an iterative process that begins by determining a company’s strategic vision and needs. Once that journey is established, the company can use a portfolio approach to invest its resources and innovate across the core, adjacent, and transformational areas.

Among interviewed executives’ recommendations for developing an exponential mindset: Know what problems you are trying to solve; entrust small teams to innovate at the edge; operate outside of traditional walls; and raise the national dialogue on system-level competitiveness and innovation enablers.

Learn more related to this topic, register to attend “Robots in the small- to medium-sized shop” during IWF 2018.

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